Freedom of information: Liaison with NOK (Next of Kin)
27 September 2013
Thank you for your letter dated 2 July 2013 under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) in which you seek the following information -
"We are seeking to obtain copies of any procedures, protocols, guidance or other information for a Procurator Fiscal concerning the manner in which communicaton with the family of a deceased person in a suspected murder investigation ought to be handled. In particular we would wish to know who is responsible for liaising with the family in these circumstances and what information is to be conveyed in regard to the arrangements for disposal of the body by burial or cremation."
As you will no doubt be aware, the Court of Session judgment – Glasgow City Council and Dundee City Council v Scottish Information Commissioner  CSIH 73 (issued on 30 September 2009) – clarified that the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 gives a right to information, not documents, and that information requests must identify the information sought. A request is not valid if it does not, in accordance with section 8(1)(c) of FOISA, describe the information requested. The Scottish Information Commissioner, however, published guidance indicating that Scotitsh public authorities should not decline to respond to a request for copies of documents, if it was reasonably clear what information was being sought.
I am accordingly treating your request as a request for the information contained within such guidance, rather than copies of the guidance itself.
There are a number of documents containing information relevant to your request that have been published by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and the Scottish Government. Annex 1 provides a list of such publications and where they can be found. In accordance with s.25 FOISA, these documents can reasonably be obtained other than by making a Freedom of Information request and, as such, will not be provided to you in response to your request.
The following information is provided is response to your request:
• Post Mortem Examination Leaflet (Annex 5); and
• Breaking Bad News (redacted in accordance with section 38(1)(b) of FOISA)